Chat, video call, scheduling, and other collaboration tools are all being added to Gmail to eliminate app switching and make work flow in a more intuitive way, Google said.
A new G Suite update is transforming Gmail into the "home for work," officials said, by combining many of Google's existing collaboration tools into the Gmail interface.
Javier Soltero, VP and GM, G Suite, said the update is necessary to help companies affected by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders adapt to the new reality of work. "Virtual meetings, remote collaboration, flexible hours: it's becoming clear that these new ways of working are here to stay," Soltero said in a blog post detailing the updates.
The Gmail integrated workspace brings together what Soltero called three core pillars of communication—email, chat, and video. Combining these tools into Gmail's interface is a way to eliminate the need to learn a new collaboration tool and allow "the tools we already use to be even more helpful, and work together, in an integrated, intuitive way," Soltero said.
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Google cited several available features as part of the communication centralization into Gmail, including integrating Google Meet into the Gmail web client and mobile apps and the addition of Google Chat into Gmail's web client, which will soon come to the iOS and Android versions of Gmail as well.
Along with those existing features, Google announced new features coming to Gmail as part of the updates:
- Google Chat in Gmail is getting shared files and tasks to make it a "better solution for longer-term projects."
- Chat rooms are also getting real-time document co-editing features already available in Google Docs, Sheets, etc., inside of the Gmail interface so that "you can chat about the changes you're making to a document in real time, or assign a new task (or mark one complete!), without switching between screens."
- Third-party app integrations that exist elsewhere in G Suite will be supported, so users can call up integrated apps inside Gmail as well.
- Users will be able to join a video call from a Gmail Google Chat, chat messages can be forwarded to user inboxes, tasks can be created from chat messages, and all of these will be presented as contextual suggestions.
- Gmail's search feature is being extended to include Google Chat messages.
- Chat rooms will be able to be pinned.
- A "do not disturb" mode is available, as are custom status notices.
Soltero's blog post also mentioned new security features coming to G Suite, like Google Meet participants ejected from calls being unable to attempt to rejoin unless the host re-invites them, and safety locks that allow meeting hosts to limit who can speak and present in meetings.
Gmail's existing real-time phishing protections are being added to Google Chat as well; links that are clicked on in messages will be scanned and blocked if their destinations appear suspicious or malicious.
These new integrations for Gmail aren't available to G Suite subscribers yet, but Google said it will be rolling them out in the coming weeks. G Suite customers can sign up to be notified when the update is available for their organization.
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